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John S. McCain POW CIA-Defense Department Documents

 Ellen Rometsch - Kennedy Administration/Robert Kennedy FBI Files

Ellen Rometsch
John Kennedy Administration/Robert Kennedy FBI Files

478 pages of FBI files covering Ellen Rometsch. Files date from 1963 to 1987.

Ellen Rometsch was born in Kleinitz Germany, in 1936. After World War II Kleinitz became part of East Germany. In 1955 she immigrated to West Germany. Ellen Rometsch's second husband was Rolf Rometsch, a West German Military aide assigned to Washington, D.C. Mrs. Rometsch arrived in the U.S. on April 6, 1961. She was investigated as an internal security threat, as it was reported that she came from East Germany. The investigation finally determined that Mrs. Rometsch did not pose an internal security threat.

Ellen Rometsch frequented the Quorum Club, a private club in the Carroll Arms Hotel on Capitol Hill run by Lyndon B. Johnson aide Bobby Baker. In his 1978 book, "Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator," Baker referred to the place as where, "membership was comprised of senators, congressmen, lobbyists, Capitol Hill staffers, and other well-connecteds who wanted to enjoy their drinks, meals, poker games, and shared secrets in private accommodations."

According to presidential historian Michael Bechloss, in the summer of 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover went to Robert Kennedy and said, "We have information that not only your brother, the president, but others in Washington have been involved with a woman whom we suspect as a Soviet intelligence agent, someone who is linked to East German intelligence." Bechloss says Robert Kennedy spoke with Senate leaders Everett Dirksen (Republican) and Mike Mansfield (Democrat) and asked them to keep to themselves whatever knowledge they had of this. According to Bechloss, Robert Kennedy also had Rometsch expelled from the United States within a week and flown to West Germany.

The files show a high level of interest in the Ellen Rometsch case. Memos indicate the scope and range of the investigation. Files show that Department of Justice files on Ellen Rometsch were moved to Robert F. Kennedy's personal files. A memo shows that while discussing the Rometsch issue with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover broached the subject of the possibility of President John Kennedy replacing him as FBI director. A July 1963 FBI memo calls for an end to the investigation of the Rometsch case. Memos show that after taking office following the assassination of President Kennedy, President Johnson encouraged further investigation into the Rometsch case. Files show that the FBI at least initially did not make files concerning Rometsch available to Robert Kennedy's replacement as attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach. A memo summarizes a 1965 FBI interview of Robert Kennedy concerning Ellen Rometsch, John F. Kennedy and former publisher of the Washington Post Philip Graham. Files show that the FBI failed to develop any information connecting Rometsch with intelligence activities in the United States. Specific results of the FBI investigation were withheld. The memos however show the dissemination of whatever that information was and the interest of others to see it. A memo indicates that some FBI files on Rometch have been intentionally destroyed by the FBI. Materials show the date and number of pages in the files which are currently heavily redacted or withheld in their entirety, which researchers may want to pursue in the future.

The collection contains a text transcript of all recognizable text embedded into the graphic image of each page of each document, creating a searchable finding aid. Text searches can be done across all files.



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